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Posted 2/5/2016

Release no. 16-006

Shirley J. Smith

     VICKSBURG, MISS…Arkabutla Lake staff of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the North Mississippi Trail Alliance (NMTA) to expand its system of trails. The Hernando Point Trail will be one of the trails in north Mississippi that the NMTA members are developing and maintaining.

 When completed, the trail will be around 26 miles in length. Trail construction began in 2015 after cultural resource surveys were completed on the proposed trail corridor. Phase 1 of the construction included development of a 2-mile beginner loop with a trail head located in the Hernando Point Day Use Area. This beginner trail will provide additional recreation facilities such as hiking and biking for campers and day users. Phase 1 is scheduled to be complete by the end of February. Phase 2 of the project will expand the trail east towards Tulane Road and provide a more intermediate biking / hiking experience. Users seeking a longer trail will be rewarded with scenic overlooks of Arkabutla Lake. Phase 2 is expected to be complete by late 2016 or spring of 2017. Phase 3 of the project will extend the trail even further east to Highway 51. The terrain and elevation of this section of the trail will be suitable for advanced biking or more strenuous hiking. When all 3 phases are complete the trail will be able to provide a variety of conditions suitable for all user skill levels.

 In addition to the health and quality of life benefits that an outdoor recreational venue such as Hernando Point has to offer, there is the additional economic benefit that the new trail will bring to the area.  An economic impact study prepared by the Mississippi state economist in 2014 estimated that competitive events alone would result in a nearly $250,000 annual benefit to area businesses, mostly from out of county users.  Additionally, existing Hernando Point recreational assets such as the campground and day use facilities will benefit from increased park attendance due to new park visitors taking advantage of the recreational trail.

 Ecotourism now makes up 10-20 percent of all tourism in the world and has the potential to become big industry in Mississippi by utilizing the rustic appeal of the Mississippi outdoors. By developing and maintaining a diverse and extensive outdoor recreation system, the state can enhance its economy through ecotourism.

 Mississippi’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (SCORP) for 2015-2019 lists hiking and trails as the top statewide recreation need. In a survey by the SCORP, recreation providers in Mississippi ranked trails as second among most requested recreational facilities.